Where Do Stores Get Their Music

Have you ever been shopping, and the overhead music fits the vibe? A good store playlist may make you want to purchase higher quality products or put you in a better mood altogether. 

Stores get their music from background music providers. The biggest in-store media provider is Mood Media. Stock music is also sold through other online providers with special licensing for retail businesses.

Keep reading for more information on where stores get their music and why music is important to the customer experience. 

Where Does the Music Come From? 

The music that plays in Target is different from that in Walmart. The music that plays in Walmart is different from the music that plays in Home Depot and Lowe’s. Each retailer is different when it comes to its media selection.

For example, Walmart created its own radio station where a DJ curates setlists, conducts interviews, and integrates celebrity shoutouts. The content is very similar to what you would expect from a regular radio show but condensed to fit within the realm of all things Walmart.

Other stores like Target outsource their music playlists from companies like Mood Media. 

The History of Muzak

One common trope in television and movies is when two or more characters are forced onto an elevator together. The background music in the scene is oddly calming compared to the chaos within the characters or outside the elevator.

The soothing jazz melody you hear is both fitting and unfitting at the same time. The sound of soothing, lyric-less ambient music originated in the early 1920s and helped calm elevator riders as they ascended and descended.

The company that provided “elevator music” would become known as Muzak. The genre grew in popularity as it was frequently used in hotel lobbies and shopping centers. When research on music’s influence on physiological behaviors was published in 1941, ambient music became an integral part of retail stores. 

How Music Affects Shoppers 

You’ll find that most music in stores is upbeat and cheerful. There are no songs with minor tones or harsh beats. For many stores, the music matches the representation of the brand’s identity. According to a 2013 paper, researchers concluded that there are dimensions to psychologically processing music. 

  • Societal – Some genres, like country or classic rock, allow us to examine our role in society and influence how we choose to express ourselves. 
  • Emotional – Music evokes emotions, causing us to feel joy, happiness, or sadness.  
  • Action – Certain messages in songs can inspire us to a call to action. We may feel compelled to buy healthier groceries or gifts for someone special. 

Everyone’s music taste is different, so not all music you hear in stores will be your cup of tea. However, the meaning of in-store ambient music is never meant to be unpleasant. Many songs are feel-good, without lyrics, or are timeless classics. Fun, poppy songs are a lot better to listen to than the squeaking wheels of shopping carts and fussy children. 


While music is essential for a customer’s shopping experience, it is also essential to the employee’s workday experience. Many retail jobs can be repetitive, and nothing is worse than hearing the same twenty songs in order every day.

It’s even worse when customers start picking up on the repetition. Versatile retail music outlets like Walmart Radio and Mood Media are important to keep customers and employees satisfied. 

Rebranding Muzak

After filing for bankruptcy in 2009, Muzak was acquired by Mood Media, rebranding the century-old company into a multi-media solution for businesses. By utilizing options such as curated playlists, digital signage, and scent, Mood Media is the industry leader for in-store music and much more.

The next time you’re in a store, and you hear the music, think about how the song makes you feel in conjunction with your purchases. Although the music may sound different than the original “elevator music” of the early 1900s, the influence of in-store ambient music is an integral part of the shopping industry. 


The history of ambient music in public spaces goes back 100 years. Stores nowadays follow a similar business model in which the music played in-store represents the company and influences guests. Stores get their music from companies like Mood Media.

Although the simple, jazzy melodies of “elevator music” have been replaced by Top Forty Hits and timeless 80’s classics, Muzak’s influence still lives on in many of the stores you frequent now.

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